“The planning of whole peoples to subordinate their activities (including teaspoons and motor-cars) to one overriding function.” - from Michael Lane’s paper “Power and Freedom” based on the work of C.H. Douglas
You may have heard the expression Nimby, meaning someone who acknowledges the need for big works but “Not In My Back Yard.” The expression is pejorative, as if to say that the sentiment “Not In My Back Yard,” though natural and even universal (there are no “Imbies”), is nevertheless selfish. It is as if to say that we all must be prepared to make such sacrifices when our turn comes. All those fool enough to vote for prodigious works should share the honour of making the sacrifice.
In respect of large-scale planning, Douglas calls attention to “the fact that practically every article we use, from a teaspoon to a motor-car, is the result of skilled, intensive planning, . . . yet we do not plan teaspoons and motor-cars ‘as a whole’.” The planning that results in a teaspoon or a motor-car in competition with other teaspoons and motor-cars for the individual’s attention is one thing. Planning with a capital-P is the planning of whole peoples to subordinate their activities (including teaspoons and motor-cars) to one overriding function. And the most overriding function possible is war (Brief for the Prosecution, p. 51).
Large-Scale Planning Assumes ‘the End of the Story’
Again: “When the rational processes legitimately begin, creative processes, in the real sense, cease. ‘Large Scale Planning’ assumes that we have come to the end of the story. Much the same principle is exemplified in the profound remark that ‘Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien’ [The best is enemy of the good].
Now if the Plan merely comprehends collar-studs, it will probably retard the arrival of the best collar-stud, but will not, per se, prevent the use of buttons. But if it is really ‘large scale Planning’ (viewing the problem as a whole’ . . .) and you don’t approve of the Nationalised, or Monopoly, collar-stud, that will be just too bad” (Development of World Dominion 45).
We are back to the theme (we never really left it) of government by function. The function--the doing--usurps the place of the individual soul for whose sake, ostensibly, everything is done. The party leading the way to New Wigan when these pieces were written was even named after a function, labour. If you can have a Labour party, why not a Chores party or a Suffering party? Isn’t it a little odd to attempt to organize a whole nation around the fact that sometimes human beings have to labour?
Douglas makes the point amusingly by comparing labour and sleep: “Labour is no more, and no less, than a function, and has no more, and no less, claim to consideration than any other function, such as sleep. But of course Socialism merely uses ‘Labour’ to obtain a Parliamentary franchise for an overriding monopoly--if it were feasible to capitalise sleep for this purpose, it would serve even better” (Development of World Dominion 122).